- The Washington Times
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian activist group known as Pussy Riot, said he believes the Russian government poisoned him, BBC News reported Thursday.

“The poisoning was carried out so professionally that no other conclusion is possible,” Mr. Verzilovtold BCC News.

The activist fell ill on Sept. 11 and was initially taken to a hospital in Moscow before being transferred to a German hospital. He was discharged on Wednesday.

German doctors said they are still not entirely certain what caused Mr. Verzilov’s illness, or who could have been behind it, but told The Associated Press that a poisoning was “highly plausible.”

The activist said his illness felt like a “black hole,” because he can’t remember anything. He told BCC that there was plenty of opportunities for someone to slip something into the food or drink he was consuming in the hours leading up to his illness.

Mr. Verzilov told BCC he believes it was either Russia’s FSB domestic security agency or GRU military intelligence — which he described as the Russian version of the FBI or CIA, respectively.

“No single entity exists in Russia or that part of Eastern Europe that could have — which actually can develop it [the drugs in his system] and carry out poisonous attacks like that,” he said.

While Mr. Verzilov said he doesn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly responsible, he said his attack occurred because of how Mr. Putin governs.

“Vladimir Putin, he doesn’t give final approval for, in his eyes, such small actions like this,” Mr. Verzilov said, “He creates an atmosphere where such paramilitary groups do what they can do.”

The Russian activist said there are two main reasons why he would have been targeted — the protest he and a few other Pussy Riot members were arrested for during the World Cup or for looking into the deaths of three Russian journalists in Africa.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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